June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

All That Glitters Is Not Necessarily Gold

Shepsi, gold medalist.

Have you ever had buyer’s remorse? That is when you buy something that seemed essential or beautiful in the store, but once you got it home, you did not want it. An organizer often sees situations where her clients are holding onto like-new merchandise that they have no intention of wearing or using and need help letting go.

A client told me she had bought an expensive topaz and diamond gold ring on sale, yet still paid a hefty sum. The ring needed to be sized to her finger, but instead of bringing it to a jeweler, it sat in her jewelry box still sporting the store’s tag. Not only did she not want to wear it, she wanted her money back. Buyer’s remorse!

When she asked whether I knew who buys gold rings, I recommended a couple of reputable dealers and jewelers in her area. We agreed she should leave the price tag on as evidence the ring had never been worn. Of course, it also showed what the ring had retailed for, something a dealer might want to know. I schooled her a bit on what to say and what not to say. For instance, I told her she does not need to give non-essential information, such as that she has no desire to wear it or that she bought it on sale. I stressed that she should ask the dealer to make an offer rather than naming her price.

I was told by a trustworthy jeweler that any dealer who asks “How much do you want for this?” is doing the owner a disservice. A dealer or jeweler is trained to calculate the value of a piece of jewelry and, through that knowledge, can make an offer. A lay person can only guess and may name a price that is below market value. A disreputable jeweler or dealer would jump at this. On the other hand, if the owner pulls a price out of his or her hat that is too high, a disreputable buyer would walk away.

I called her a few days later, hoping to hear she got a good price. What a surprise to hear she still had the ring! My contact explained that the department store the ring is from is known to “jack up jewelry prices” so they can offer huge price reductions during sales. He told her even the sale price was too high for the ring. Yes, it was truly 14 karat gold and yes, the diamonds were genuine. The topaz, however, was not of high quality and the diamonds were not graded well according to cut, color, and clarity. In light of this, my client received an offer that was too low to accept.

In frustration, my client said she may consider paying to have it resized so she could wear it. I asked her if this isn’t an example of the proverbial throwing good money after bad since she didn’t like it enough to have it re-sized up until now! Also, knowing that she overpaid for a ring she feels pareve about, I questioned whether wearing it would give her the same pleasure as wearing her other, much-loved rings. When a client hits a wall, I try to offer viable alternatives; therefore, I asked if she would consider gifting it to her sister for a very special birthday or perhaps to her daughter.

I was frustrated on behalf of my client and wanted more information about selling gold jewelry. I paid a visit to my trusted jeweler and jewelry designer, Willy Shum of Gems Galleria, a family-owned retail jewelry store located at 225 Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey. Willy’s store has been located in Highland Park for eleven years. He has a degree in architecture, which he applies to designing jewelry. I asked him about how to be wise when buying and selling gold jewelry. Willy told me there are three important indicators jewelers or dealers depend upon when buying gold. They are: the weight of the gold, the color of the gold and whether it carries a “stamp, which is a universal indicator.

When a jeweler is asked to buy gold, he doesn’t only rely on his eyes. Gold is most accurately weighed in grams on a jeweler’s scale. The total weight of the gold is calculated using the current price of gold, which is updated daily. Some jewelers display a sign inside their store with the current price of gold.

Assessing the color of the gold is a skill. While an educated consumer may be able to spot metal that has been painted gold, it takes a trained eye to identify the difference between 10 karat, 14 karat, 18 karat and 24 karat gold if it is not stamped. Sometimes the stamp on the gold is so tiny, the buyer depends on a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass to spot it. Willy stressed that with today’s technology, there is a “25 % risk” that the gold is not what it appears. An item could present as gold but actually have a 14 or 18 karat gold overlay on steel or silver or other metal. The true test for identifying gold is a chemical test that only a jeweler can perform. For those of us who have gold jewelry they want tested for gold content, many jewelers will perform this test for a small fee.

Willy’s store buys gold for the purpose of melting it down. Some people have unique pieces that they would rather sell to a jeweler who handles estate jewelry and resells to customers. Estate jewelry is jewelry of any age and style that has been previously owned.

Just as a seller must be cautious of a bad deal, the person buying the jewelry must look out for fraud and stolen goods. It is standard operational procedure for a buyer to ask for ID. Willy said a jeweler or dealer will “use their conscience” to decide if they want to do business with the seller. Willy believes a business’ reputation is at stake. “It never pays to be greedy.”

I was curious whether Willy had any stories to share from his 27 years in the jewelry business. His favorite story was from the time his store was located in a mall and involved five men who entered his store together. While one man approached him carrying a heavy gold chain, the other four stood off to the side observing. The man asked to have the chain appraised but said he did not want to sell it. Willy told him the chain was worth $850. All five men hurried out of the store. A short time later, the four men re-entered Willy’s store holding a gold chain. They said they would like to sell the chain to Willy for $850. Willy took it in his hand and immediately knew it was not the same chain. It was a ringer. “Gentlemen,” he said, “This is not the necklace I looked at before.” The four men’s faces turned white as they ran out of the store.

I received a good education from Willy regarding buying and selling gold jewelry. As for my client, she wants to continue trying to find a good price for her ring. I hope she consults with Willy.

Do you have drawers and boxes filled with jewelry and you need someone to help you go through them? Perhaps you need someone to arrange to sell valuable jewelry and coins? I am prepared to help. Please give me a call for a free 30-minute phone consultation.


Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s Kosher Organizer and tzniut (modesty) wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. See Ellen’s work on Instagram @ideclutterbyEllen. Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected].

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